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Catching the Wave of Reinvention…a Late Bloomer Finds Her Way

As an achievement-obsessed Baby Boomer, Marcia Heath never imagined she’d pick up so many valuable life lessons from two surf-shop owners on a small Caribbean island. That’s exactly what happened when a pandemic burnout led her to the sunny shores of Aruba, where she stumbled upon the origin story of Bula Surf Shop. Go behind the scenes and read about the making of Little Giant, available on August 13, 2024.

Author Q&A

Where did the spark for the book originate?

My curiosity caught on fire during a post-Covid trip to Aruba. Seeing all the shuttered storefronts, I was stunned when my stepson, David, told me Bula Surf Shop had not only survived, but also continued to break its own sales records. When David casually mentioned “Yair and I are still having fun,” I knew I had to unravel the mystery of how their business defied the odds.

What were your qualifications for writing this book?

I’m a zealous wordsmith and storyteller with a background in strategic planning for new ventures, large and small.

I thought it would be fun to apply the lessons I’d learned about business success to David and Yair’s quest for personal and financial freedom.

I used my research and interviewing skills to dig into their mindset as entrepreneurs. When they started Bula in 2003, they had zero retail experience or financial reserves. Right away I noticed a pattern of breaking the rules. They refused to advertise. Never put their products on sale. And deliberately stayed small when they could have franchised or expanded.

It took me more than two years to piece together the clues to their counterintuitive ways of seeing things, and I drew heavily from the fields of social science, philosophy, and even neuroscience to paint the picture.

If you’re a Malcolm Gladwell fan who loves contrarian business insights, this book’s for you. Join the Little Giant book community and get a free sample.

What sets the book apart?

For starters, it’s set in a tropical paradise and has more than fifty color pictures. More seriously, I can’t think of another book quite like it…it’s an underdog story about two brilliant, self-effacing good guys who win in the end. Little Giant  tells their personal story while weaving in reflections about work-life balance, entrepreneurship, and creativity. The sum of their adventures–their rookie mistakes, crazy trials, and unexpected triumphs–shows us we can make a bigger positive impact than we might imagine.

Unlike prescriptive self-help books, Little Giant is more like having a friend by your side, pointing out curiosities along the way. I hope readers will look inward and take away their own lessons, such as:

  • One of the most ambitious feats is to live true to yourself.
  • It often takes a series of zigzags and switchbacks to find your path.
  • The quality of your life is determined by the quality of your relationships.
  • We can’t script success; it’s a constant series of experiments.
  • No one has all the answers, even the experts.

 

Did you have any surprising personal revelations?

Almost right away, I saw my blind spots as a writer-journalist. Although I had never surfed a day in my life, I assumed surfing was primarily a sport for hygiene-challenged stoners. So wrong! David and Yair opened my eyes to the difficulty and discipline it takes to ride a wave, and they coached me on the many ways their passion for ocean sports gave them an edge in business. 

As a baby boomer who had dutifully climbed the corporate ladder, I never expected to learn so much from a couple of rule-breaking Gen Xers.  I’ve struggled all my life to relax and enjoy life’s small moments. I can’t say I’m cured, but I am happier than I’ve ever been. My moments of tranquility are the single biggest gift that came out of writing a book…a dream that’s dogged for as long as I can remember.

I got another surprising lesson. Even though I set off on a solo writing journey, I was never really alone. When I found myself lost, lonely, or stumped, I would reach out and somebody was always there for me. I’m amazed at our capacity to connect with each other…our humanity. That’s where the truth reveals itself.

Why this book now?

Little Giant gives readers a hopeful alternative to the post-pandemic hustle culture. Lots of people are experiencing high levels of stress and loneliness, especially men. The book offers a powerful antidote by showing how David and Yair prioritized their friendship and work-life balance over a profit motive. Together, they grabbed hold of life far better than either imagined by making their relationships a priority.

In popular culture, in books and movies, we don’t get to see the inner dynamics of a deep, committed platonic bond like theirs. The book fills that void by showing us all the ways our friendships contribute to our longevity, creativity, and happiness. 

Sappy as it may sound, I now believe there are no strangers amongst us, only friends we haven’t met. I hope you’ll join me in discovering new ways to live, work, and enjoy life to the fullest. 

 

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